Giving away the plot

by Dai Henley
(Romsey, Hampshire UK)

Question: Should the synopsis give away the major plot twists?


My feeling is that if you do, the agent/editor/prospective publisher won't get the same affect as the ultimate reader if you get that far. The element of surprise will have been taken away.

Does this matter?

Answer: The agent/editor won't appreciate the element of surprise if they never read the manuscript.

And they won't read the manuscript unless the query letter and synopsis convince them that you know how to construct a good plot.

And the only way to convince them that you know how to construct a good plot is to include all the twists and the final resolution in the synopsis.

Experienced pros have probably had to deal with new authors in the past who, when asked how the story ends, say "I haven't worked that out yet."

To pros, that is a red flag that says, "This author doesn't have a complete draft, which means he/she might never finish the book. So don't waste your time on them."

Of course, your synopsis can still present the twists in the order they appear in the book - including the emotional twists. If you write it well, the synopsis will convey the effect you are trying to create in the book and prove to the agent/editor that you know what you are doing and you have the complete draft ready to submit as soon as they ask for it.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero